UK Motor Insurance – Policy Add-Ons

Most UK car insurance products have a number of optional extras that can be purchased with the policy, We list below the most common ones :-

Car Insurance Add-Ons – Protected NCD

We consider this to be an essential. No matter how careful you are, no matter how good a driver you think you are, the chances are that one day you will have to make a claim that will affect your entitlement to a no claims bonus.

Here’s just a few examples :

  • your car could be stolen or broken into
  • your car is hit whilst parked, by a ‘hit and run’ driver
  • you have an accident that was not your fault but your insurer fails to recover, for any number of reasons. For example, the other driver gives you false information and all attempts to trace him fail
  • you have a momentary lapse in concentration and have an accident. Yes it happens to the best of us, even those who have passed the advanced driving tests – indeed they can be the most difficult sometimes as they can’t accept they did something wrong!. In fact we’ve seen a claim form where the driver has said ‘..I hit the car in front but it was not my fault because I am an advanced driver with the Institute of Advanced Motorists’

NCD protection lets you get away with one of these claims. Without it a serious financial penalty will be encountered at the time of your next renewal. And the renewal after that.

Car Insurance Add-Ons – Legal Protection

ULR stand for Uninsured Loss Recovery. Even with a so called fully comprehensive policy you will suffer financial losses that are not covered by your policy. Here is a list of some of the more common losses you might suffer, but there are plenty more. Any loss you suffer not covered by your policy is called an uninsured loss, such as :

– your policy excess (or damage to your car if not comprehensive cover)
– postage and telephone calls
– alternative transport – e.g. bus/train fairs hire car
– injury
– loss of income
– inconvenience

For legal reasons, if you buy this cover it will be supplied by a different insurer, or different division of your insurer to your main motor policy cover. In the old days nearly everyone bought their insurance cover through an insurance broker. Your broker would undertake recovery of these losses for you or refer you to a solicitor.

Since the advent of the legal expense insurer, this has become a boom industry with all sorts of firms springing up to cash in. A legal expense insurer will provide the legal costs of recovering your uninsured losses. Some will do it in house with their own staff, others have a panel of solicitors who will undertake the work. Some insurers provide a free legal help line attached to this cover. It will give you 24 hour telephone advise on any legal matter to do with your car.

The cost of this cover is actually very cheap. The only trouble is that where you buy it off a broker, they take commission which pushes up the cost to you. But it is another of those essentials in my view.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that people involved in an accident have found out the hard way how foolish they were in not taking up this cover when they had the chance.

To cater for this, the legal protection industry is now supplying a product you can buy, at a price, after the event. Whether they have their own in-house teams of staff or use out-sourced solicitors they will only attempt recovery where there is clear evidence that someone else is at fault. But it can take time. You have to be patient. It can take several weeks, if not months, to prize money out of another insurer.

Where there is an injury, you are looking at months, perhaps years before you receive anything. This is mainly due to the length of time it takes nature to heal injuries. If necessary, your legal expense insurer will pay for your case to go through the civil law courts. But there is a limit to how much they will pay in legal costs. This is the sum insured. Have a look and see what this is on your policy. You will find that you can get a lot of legal help for the amount involved. There are several conditions and exclusions attached to this add on policy. Surprise Surprise.

Some insurers provide a free legal help line attached to this cover. It will give you 24 hour telephone advise on any legal matter to do with your car.

Car Insurance Add-Ons – Hire Cars

Some insurers have a network of approved repairers who will supply you with a courtesy car if one should be available. A few insurers have a hire car scheme added to their policy whereby they will book a car for you from their chosen hire car company. Plenty of others don’t have either of these things.

Hire car extensions are expensive and the policy cover is quite limited. You must decide if you need to buy it. It is not, in my view, an essential ‘add on’ for everyone. Ask yourself these questions: If my car was off the road would I still be able to

– get to work (by bus, train, cycle, walk)?
– take the children/grandchildren to school?
– go shopping
– go on holiday?
– pursue my social interests, hobbies, sports etc?

If you could cope without a car for a few days, you do not need to buy this cover. If you can’t then you should check that you have this cover.

Remember, if an accident is your fault, or your car is stolen, you won’t be able to recover any hire car costs from another person. You won’t be able to go and see a ‘credit hire’ firm. You can’t rely upon the prospect of a courtesy car from the garage. So this extra cover becomes valuable to you.

Equally, if you do not want to use the recommended repairer of your insurance company, or your car is a total loss, your hire car cover will come to the rescue. Let us look at what you might expect from a typical policy.

You can only hire a car if yours if off the road for more than 2 days, but the maximum hire period is 14 days. If you need it for more than this you will have to pay the hire firm yourself.

You can’t have a hire car for a windscreen or glass only claim

There is usually a delivery maximum so if you live out in the sticks and the hire firm is some distance away from you, expect an additional charge if you arrange them to deliver it to you. Can you get to the local depot yourself?

Your own motor policy will cover the hire car for comprehensive benefits. That helps your insurer to keep down the cost of the hire car cover but if you have an accident in it, the claim will be on your policy.

The car can only be hired from the date your car goes in for repair if the damage to your car is such that it is still safe and legal to drive. If not, you can have the car from the date of the accident.

Policies might impose a maximum period of hire, such as 14 days. If your car is repaired prior to this date, you must return the hire car as soon as you have your car back.

The car supplied is likely to be a small, manual gearbox vehicle no more than a year or two old. If you need something a bit bigger you might have to pay extra. If you need an automatic efforts will be made to locate one for you within the vehicle groups specified in the cover. The hire car will usually come supplied with a tank full of fuel. You must return it with a full tank of fuel. If you don’t you will be charged by the hire firm for a fill up. And they charge a very high price per litre!

Some hire firms will want to collect your credit card number, if you have one, against the possibility of having to fill up your car or bumping it whilst out and about.

Finally the cover under this section only applies to the UK

Car Insurance Add-Ons – Breakdown Recovery

Under a basic comprehensive policy, your insurer will pay for recovery to the nearest competent repairer. You can add to that and have full motoring assistance on your policy. If you have separate membership of a motoring club for breakdowns, consider this as worth looking at.

The cover provided might be adequate and cheaper than that which you can buy separately. But read through the ‘small print’ so make sure you have enough cover for your needs. You will not receive a membership card or a membership number.

I strongly recommend calling the emergency breakdown number a couple of weeks after going on cover to make sure they have your details. Whilst these are sometimes passed on by electronic means, I also know that they are sometimes sent on tapes and diskettes in the post. Errors in computer data have arisen and caused difficulty at the time of a breakdown or accident. The last thing you want. So check it out first!